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The Top 25 Movies of 1998 (#25 – 21)

June 12, 2023 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
The Replacement Killers Image Credit: Columbia TriStar Home Video

Every so often I think about doing some sort of “mega list” but what I should make that mega list about is rarely obvious. So I start poking around the internets and then conjure up something. One of my big inspirations is looking at lists of movies from specific years (like on Wikipedia) and then figuring out what makes that year interesting. Did that year have a bunch of cool action movies in it? Horror movies? Something else?

So recently I looked up the movies that came out in 1998 and decided right then and there “I should make a mega list out of this. The Top 25 Movies of 1998!” And that’s what I’ve done. I’ve put together a list of the Top 25 movies from 1998, according to me, based on the list of movies that appears on Wikipedia ( this is the list I’m using to make my own list). As a result of using this list as a basis for my list there will be movies that don’t appear on my list that are still quite good but, because they’re not on the Wikipedia list I didn’t include them on mine (like the terrific Dolph Lundgren action flick Sweepers). I will be doing this mega list over five weeks, picking five movies a week. There will be no honorable mentions.

And so, without any further what have you, what are the first five movies on the Top 25 Movies of 1998 list?

The Top 25 Movies of 1998: #25-#21

Image Credit: Columbia TriStar Home Video

25-Godzilla: This American reimagining of the Godzilla franchise was expected to be a huge summer hit, as the team behind 1996’s Independence Day was responsible for it. Why wouldn’t lightning strike twice? Director Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin knew what audiences wanted. Mega spectacle. And they were going to deliver the biggest Godzilla movie of all time. Sadly for Emmerich and Devlin and Tri-Star/Sony, their Godzilla was a flop. The movie’s Wikipedia page claims that, in the big scheme of things, Godzilla did make money and was considered profitable, but it didn’t become its own franchise, so that has to be considered a failure of some sort. The critical response to the movie was, at best, tepid, and in the twenty-five years since it was released the movie hasn’t generated a renewed appreciation. The “consensus” is the movie stinks. I saw it in the theater during its opening week and enjoyed it quite a bit. It certainly didn’t feel like a “typical” Godzilla movie, it felt like a big hooha American movie, and that was okay. Jean Reno was great as the French secret agent that doesn’t want the world to know that France is responsible for creating the Godzilla creature, and Matthew Broderick did a good job as the nerdy scientist lead. The Godzilla creature design was decent enough, and I was looking forward to the sequel where we’d see what happens after those eggs hatched. And I’m still looking forward to it, even though I know it will never, ever happen.

Image Credit: Columbia TriStar Home Video

24- The Replacement Killers: Directed by Antoine Fuqua and featuring international action star Chow Yun-Fat in his American movie debut alongside Mira Sorvino, The Replacement Killers is a sort of Americanized Hong Kong action movie. It doesn’t have the same sort of unbridled energy of John Woo’s Hard Boiled or The Killer, but it tries very hard to be kind of like them and it sort of succeeds. It’s a movie that I didn’t really care for when I saw it in the theater but started to enjoy it more watching it on TV. I’m not even sure why I didn’t like it when I first saw it: for whatever reason it just didn’t click with me. Chow Yun-Fat was cool as hell, as expected, and it was a hoot to see Danny Trejo and Michael “Rowdy Burns” Rooker and Jurgen Prochnow and Patrick Kilpatrick on the big screen. Mia Sorvino, though, seemed out of place. I didn’t think she had any chemistry with Chow Yun-Fat and it seemed like she was in the movie as some sort of stunt casting (she was an Oscar winner for Mighty Aphrodite two years before The Replacement Killers). Sorvino’s performance eventually grew on me and now I “get” why she’s there. It’s too bad that this movie and The Corrupter weren’t bigger hits because if they had been I’m sure we would have had more, and better, American Chow Yun-Fat movies. Oh, well. At least we got The Replacement Killers.

Image Credit: Scream Factory

23- Species II: I saw Species II before I saw the first Species movie so I didn’t really have any expectations going into part two. I was aware of the reputation Species had as a sort of sophisticated sci-fi horror action movie (the first movie had a big hooha ensemble cast with Forest Whitaker and Ben Kingsley in the lead, with Alfred Molina and Michael Madsen also in the cast, and everyone was raving about how sexy and scary Natasha Henstridge was as the alien monster Sil) and was curious if the sequel was going to be more of the same. Even if I hadn’t seen the first movie would I notice the sequel trying to be sophisticated and “above the fray” in the sci-fi genre? Well, after about forty minutes of Species II I realized, sitting in the theater, that this sequel had zero interest in being sophisticated at all. Instead, Species II is proud to be gleefully sleazy and bloody as hell and it doesn’t give a flying shit if you disagree with that approach. Justin Lazard plays an astronaut that, after returning from a manned mission to Mars, ends up infected with an alien. Lazard then starts having sex with every woman he can, impregnating them and creating an army of human alien children. Henstridge is back as an alien clone of Sil, called Eve, and the government/military tries to use her to track Lazard own and stop his alien infestation plans. Michael Madsen and Marg Helgenberger return from the first movie, and they’re joined by the always reliable Mykelti Williamson, James Cromwell, George Dzundza as the fattest Marine in cinematic history, and a completely unhinged Peter Boyle (who went uncredited on the movie according to imdb) as a scientist in a mental institution that freaks out once he finds out that there was a human mission to Mars and the astronauts brought some weird alien stuff back with them. And Richard Belzer is the President of the United States! How great is that? There’s way more nudity that I expected in this movie, and I’m still in awe of the sequence where Lazard’s Ross shoots himself in the head with a shotgun, blows his head completely away, and then his head reforms. Hollywood really doesn’t try to make movies this anymore (heck, the low budget B-movie world of today doesn’t try to do this anymore, either). Amazing stuff.

Image Credit: DreamWorks Home Entertainment

22- Small Soldiers: A movie about badass action figures that come to life (well, not in the supernatural sense. It’s done via new technology) and it’s directed by Joie Dante, the man who gave us Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch? Why wouldn’t I want to see that? Featuring a fun cast that includes David Cross, Dennis Leary, Kevin Dunn, and Phil Hartman in his final movie role, as well as Dante regulars Dick Miller and Robert Picardo, the movie straddles the line between being a weird action comedy and a family movie and mostly succeeds. I’ve always felt that the movie is way too long and should have tried to be even goofier than it is, but it has a lot of heart, and that’s mostly due to the peaceful Gorgonites, the monster enemies of the Commando Elite. Frank Langella’s voice comes through big time in pulling the heart strings as Archer, and while the Commando Elite soldier toys are fun and funny (Tommy Lee Jones is so goddamn good as Commando Elite leader Chip Hazard, and it’s a riot that most of the Commando Elite are voiced by Dirty Dozen luminaries Ernie Borgnine, Jim Brown, George Kennedy, and Clint Walker) they’re also kind of mean. That meanness makes sense since the plot is all about the Commando Elite toys going apeshit and trying to kill off the Gorgonites, but it still feels awkward at times (that’s why I think the movie should have tried to be weirder to blunt some of that meanness). I think that’s why the movie wasn’t more successful, the audience didn’t know how to take what they were watching (Hartman’s murder so close to the release date likely didn’t help, either). It’s still fun, though, and I’m surprised that someone at Dreamworks hasn’t tried to reboot it. It’s a great idea, toy action figures that can act on their own. There are tons of things you can do with that premise.

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

21- There’s Something About Mary: As a big fan of both Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin, I was excited to see the Farrelly Brothers next big comedy but was worried about the movie’s R rating. I don’t remember why I was worried about the rating but for some reason it bothered me in the run-up to the movie’s theatrical release in the summer of 1998. So I saw the movie a few weeks after it was released (as I remember it There’s Something About Mary had tremendous box office staying power and was a bit of a “pop cultural sensation” that summer) and laughed and laughed and laughed. Ben Stiller was fantastic, Matt Dillon was surprisingly funny, and Cameron Diaz was perfect as the woman everyone in the world seems to want to date. The small roles, though, were the best. Lenny Clarke as the profane fire fighter that shows up to help Stiller’s Ted to remove his scrotum from his pants zipper, Chris Elliott as a weirdo lawyer that was also obsessed with Diaz’s Mary, Keith David as Mary’s stepfather (for me this was a kind of return to form for David as he was also in Men at Work), Richard Tyson as a police detective, Lin Shaye in yet another hilariously disturbing role as an older woman with no boundaries, and football star Brett Favre as a version of himself. The “hair gel” sequence is what the movie is probably most known for, but the zipper bit at the beginning of the movie was funnier than that. And while I think Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin are better, the Farrelly Brothers, as directing duo, never really had another hit quite as big as Mary. They’ve both continued working and making movies (Peter Farrelly won two goddamn Oscars for Green Book), but 1998 was the last time they were really “it” directors. And I just want to say that the biography drama that Stiller starred in later in 1998, Permanent Midnight, sucked. I hated every goddamn second of that movie.


Next time: #20-#16! A trip! A remake! A sequel! A reboot! Big action!


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